Why I Don’t Like Bullet Journals (& What I Do Instead!)

Why I Don’t Like Bullet Journals (& What I Do Instead!)

Ah… the bullet journal.

As you may know, I am a very organized person and love all things to do with lists, agendas, planners, etc. Naturally, when I learned about the bullet journal trend, I was thoroughly excited. I stalked lots of Instagram accounts, read lots of posts, went out and bought beautiful pens & stickers, and a beautiful moleskine notebook.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long. As much as I love being organized, I could not stand the rigidity and discipline it takes to keep a bullet journal. Today, I am going to tell you WHY and what I do instead.

First thing’s first….

What is a Bullet Journal, Anyway?

The bullet journal. One of the most popular trends over the past few years, and for good reason.

If you are unfamiliar, I will quickly give you the run down. Bullet journals are journals that you customize to track WHATEVER you want. They are artistic, beautiful and highly, highly detailed ways to track just about anything in your life. From monthly, weekly & daily spreads, to habit trackers and sleep logs… You can do it all in ONE PLACE!

Here are some examples :

What I Dislike About Bullet Journaling…

  • It ended up feeling like a CHORE – Rather than looking forward to it, as I normally do, I dreaded “having” to fill out my bullet journal each day. Especially at the end of a long day. The last thing I felt like doing on some days was pull out my pretty coloured pencils and go through all the things I did / OR DIDN’T do (even worse).
  • When I would forget, I’d beat myself up – On the days I didn’t remember to fill it out, I ended up feeling LESS productive than normal and would be so hard on myself about it. Not good.
  • I’m NOT ARTISTIC – As much as I would love to be, I’m not. I could never make them look as beautiful as in the pictures.
  • Too time consuming – Creating the spreads took hours, upon hours. It seemed so ridiculous by the end of it. As beautiful as some of the spreads can be, I knew I didn’t want to have to make a new spread each and every week. Kind of defeated the purpose of trying to be productive.

What I Do Instead…

I shared a similar post about my organization strategies, however they have changed SLIGHTLY over the past few months. Here is what I currently do to keep myself organized at all times:

AGENDA & DAILY TO-DO’S:

Still an agenda girl, through and through. I currently use the 2019 Refresh Weekly Planner by Workspacery. I fill out birthdays, appointments, and work times & dates in my agenda. I keep it close by, however don’t feel obligated to look at it every single day, which is nice. I also keep daily to-do lists using my Actions by Moleskine app. It is a LIFESAVER.

*Related Post: How I Stay Organized with FREE Printable Work Sheets

MY BULLETIN BOARD LISTS:

This is the MAIN THING I do to replace the bullet journal. I have THREE lists that I keep on my bulletin board (similar to a vision board). I keep these three lists on my bulletin board because it’s a place in my room that I look at often and it helps to keep me on track, without creating something that feels like a chore.

Why do I find this method better than bullet journaling?

  • Less time consuming – I don’t have to commit to tracking my every single move. Instead, I am reminded frequently and use these reminders as focus for my day.
  • More flexibility – I like that I don’t have to say OKAY TODAY I’M CLEANING THE HOUSE! No. I will clean the house once per week. I can move it around based on my schedule and do it when it’s a suitable time for me.
  • Neat, organized & to the point – I find it easier to read this way. Bullet journals can become overwhelming, and when trying to stay organized, overwhelm is something you want to avoid!
  • Consistency – Lists like this will help you to be more consistent. I look at it this way: A daily reminder rather than a daily “chore”.

LIST ONE: THINGS TO DO ON A DAILY BASIS

I write down things I want to habitually do on a daily basis. If I don’t do them, it’s okay. I don’t beat myself up, I simply try harder the following day! On this list, I have things like: meditate, green tea at night, yoga, eat clean & drink lots of water. They are REMINDERS of how I want my day to look and things I want to make an effort to include.

LIST TWO: THINGS TO DO ON A WEEKLY BASIS

On this list, I note down things that I want to do once per week (not necessarily on a specific day). Here, I include tasks such as: laundry, clean the house, tanning routine, pedicure & face mask. You get the point!

daily and weekly to do lists

LIST THREE: VALUES TO ALIGN WITH WHO YOU WANT TO BE 

This is my favourite list, and honestly is the most important one in my opinion. Closer to the end of 2018, I started to realize that my behaviours and habits weren’t necessarily aligning with the woman I want to be and my core values. I thought… let’s change this. I am trying to do this in several ways, however this “Values” list I have created really helps to remind me of what’s important. I read it often. I am reminded of things I need to implement on a daily basis to become more aligned. See the photo below for an example of things I write down to focus on.

values list: reminder

There you have it, folks!

I hope this post helped you and maybe gave you some inspiration. I’m definitely not knocking anyone who can keep up with the bullet journal! I think it’s awesome if you can, it just isn’t for me. 

As usual, have a great week and I will talk to you soon! 

xo,

*Related Post: *How I Stay Organized with FREE Printables

*come follow me on instagram at @25thoughts_ for daily updates & inspiration!

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69 Comments

  1. Clare Kennedy
    January 9, 2019 / 6:28 pm

    number 5 and number 6 i love. i am a kindness blogger from california. yuo are a gracewful young lady. i also love the last one. the gift of fear is a book that reminds me to listen to that little voice inside me.

  2. January 9, 2019 / 6:51 pm

    I tried bullet journaling and had similar results as you did… I am NOT artistic and I always felt bad that my bullet journal wasn’t pretty! It also does eat up a lot of time, and it also encouraged me to spend too much money on supplies for it. I like your idea of having lists that you can see constantly!

    • January 15, 2019 / 5:03 pm

      Yes, it’s definitely not for everyone! Glad you liked the lists 🙂 Thanks for reading xo

  3. January 10, 2019 / 12:15 am

    I would love to try more bullet lists of they all looked the same or featured something I actually wanted to do! With being said I would rather write lists like daily reminders. I love the other ideas you mentioned as well!

  4. January 10, 2019 / 3:59 am

    I’m so happy to see someone else who doesn’t care for bullet jounals. Just looking at them overwhelms me 😂. Wonderful post!

  5. January 10, 2019 / 5:02 pm

    I completely agree with you, I hate bullet journals too. Would love to have one and I get super envious of creative and artistic people but.. nah, it’s such a chore, like you said. I’ll just stick to my Google calendar, everything is just one click away and I have access to it anywhere I go!

    I do use OneNote to journal or try to journal. At least it doesn’t cost anything 😂

    Glad to know someone agrees with me on bullet journaling!

    Shuana // howivebeen.com

    • January 15, 2019 / 5:04 pm

      YAY! So glad I’m not alone, Shauna! Google calendars are awesome, you’re right! I need to get back on that!! xo

  6. January 10, 2019 / 6:51 pm

    Although I have a bullet journal, it is NOT artistic or pretty. And sometimes when I don’t get more than a couple of things done on my overly ambitious list, I don’t rewrite them, but just continue checking things off as I get them done, even if it is a couple of days later. Yeah, so I basically have a to do list in a moleskin 😉

    • January 12, 2019 / 2:58 am

      HAHA AMAZING! Wow, Melanie, you figured out the best way to do it, that is for sure! xo

  7. January 11, 2019 / 1:21 am

    Love this! Last year I did a bullet journal and got completely overwhelmed as well. This year I found a planner that had a spread I already enjoyed so I could spend time writing in it instead of making the layouts every week.

  8. January 11, 2019 / 2:59 am

    I really like the agenda idea!!
    Tbh, i bundled agendas and bujos together, but really they’re extremely different.
    Now that I see this post, I wouldn’t mind getting a super huge agenda and keep bullet journaling for certain things.
    I’ve been wanting to make a list for birthdays and address books, but I hate the idea of getting journals for each thing. I think an agenda book would help with that.

    Thanks for sharing! <3

    — Kiki | soyvirgo.com

    • January 12, 2019 / 2:59 am

      I totally agree! Agendas are so useful for those types of things, that’s why I just kind of keep it open on my desk (in case) you know, it’s nice to be able to refer back to! xo

  9. Miss Jitty
    January 11, 2019 / 3:49 pm

    Love your ideas! I actually love the concept of bullett journals, but similarly I have zero patience and little to no artistic talent when it comes to them. I just write everything out on sticky notes and stick like crazy!

    • January 12, 2019 / 3:01 am

      I totally get it, girl! Whatever works for you! We can’t all be bullet journal angels hahaha! xo

  10. January 11, 2019 / 9:46 pm

    I don’t like bullet journals either! I’m not artistic AT ALL. But I love my planner I have as it keeps me organized! 🙂

  11. thesamesunset328
    January 11, 2019 / 9:50 pm

    Thank you for this! I want to start a bullet journal because I feel like it would be a quick fun way to get out my artistic musings between opportunities to actually escape and make art, but figuring it out has been so overwhelming that I havent done it yet! I didn’t realize that I was feeling unnecessary pressure to do it. Maybe I’ll just have an art notebook instead.

    • January 12, 2019 / 3:02 am

      I agree- do your art separately! The last thing you want is for your art to end up feeling like a chore! xo

  12. Bhawna Saini
    January 11, 2019 / 10:11 pm

    Love your lists, they are precise and effective!
    Yellow Mellow Life

    • January 12, 2019 / 3:03 am

      I totally agree, Morgan! So overwhelming, right? Thanks for reading xo

  13. January 11, 2019 / 10:23 pm

    I’ve never been one for bullet journaling either! I thought I was the only one! I too felt like it was a chore and that it had to be perfect, but mine never looked like that. Just making lists that I keep on my fridge, phone, or desk board usually work so much better for me. Plus, I love a good old fashioned traditional planner!

    Ashlee | http://www.maybeafterbrunch.com

    • January 12, 2019 / 3:03 am

      I totally agree! I think we’re all different, but the bullet journal is so insane! xo

  14. January 11, 2019 / 11:42 pm

    This was super helpful! I personally privately struggled with hating doing my bullet journal, but felt guilty for wanting to give it up. Glad we share this. Great read!

    Cyn
    http://www.cynspo.com

    • January 12, 2019 / 3:03 am

      Totally know what you mean! It’s so silly but it does end up feeling like such a chore. Thanks for reading, Cyn. xo

  15. January 12, 2019 / 1:22 am

    A lot of the bullet journal spreads are crazy overwhelming, haha. I’m not the most artistic but I do love my bullet journal and having a place to keep track of…well, my life. I’m always overly ambitious with everything I want to accomplish in a day so I’m generally pretty happy if I manage to complete even a fraction of the stuff I wrote down. 😛

  16. Rachel W
    January 14, 2019 / 1:58 am

    I have had a bullet journal off and on for a few years now and if you look up the original bullet journal system (I think it’s just bulletjournal.com) it’s actually a super basic method that Pinterest has turned into this crazy elaborate thing. It’s so simple and nothing like Pinterest haha so if you like simple and low maintenance you should check it out. Obviously it might still not be your thing, planning is such a personal preference, but I’m a very simple non artistic planner and I love it, so it might be worth checking out!

    • ladynic27
      January 14, 2019 / 5:18 am

      Wow, I was about to write nearly the same thing!
      There’s no need for “artistic” talent – you just need to be able to “draw” a dot, dash, or circle (for Tasks, Events, & Notes) then later, depending on what you do with tasks, an X over the dot if you finished it, and 2 different wedge-shapes () to move them to specific other pages. Maybe the elaboration came about because the Future Log (lines across the page to mark future months) and the Calendar Page (one number and letter down each line for day of the month and week) were too clean/simple, and some “artsy” planner decided to fancy it up.
      I’m not currently using any planner, (which is why I’m still not as organized as I could be) so I keep searching out blogs and pages about planners etc. My plan to use a disc-bound notebook with dot grid paper, to adapt the Bullet Journal ideas.
      I do like the idea of putting those things UP on a bulletin board, and I wonder if some people could also copy those to a page (inside cover?) of a planner.

    • January 15, 2019 / 5:05 pm

      NO way, really? I’m going to check this site out now because I had no idea this was a thing!! Thank you so much for sharing! xo

  17. January 14, 2019 / 1:01 pm

    Great post! I love my bullet journal and I use a daily planner religiously but I love seeing how other people use different systems to stay organized! Sometimes I find way to incorporate them into my own routines and sometimes I get some inspiration for new ways to use my current tools. Either way the posts are always interesting and yours i no exception! Great job finding a wa to stay organized that works for you!

    • January 15, 2019 / 5:06 pm

      Thank you so much! I agree, I love reading posts like this myself! xo

  18. January 14, 2019 / 2:02 pm

    These are great ideas! I used to love bullet journaling but it became more time consuming than it was worth. It is hard to keep up with one when you have such a busy schedule

  19. January 14, 2019 / 3:23 pm

    I love this. I too find bullet journalling to be a bit of a chore. Not sure why! I love that you also include your values. This is so good to keep handy to read often. Great post!

  20. Courtney
    January 14, 2019 / 3:34 pm

    I love this so much. I hated bullet journaling when I tried it and I’ve been looking for a good replacement – this is great!

    • January 15, 2019 / 5:08 pm

      Yay! Let me know how it works out for you, Courtney. I find it so much easier to keep track of things this way! I need that subtle daily reminder. xo

  21. January 14, 2019 / 3:58 pm

    I agree with this. I think bullet journaling is too much work!

  22. January 15, 2019 / 4:40 pm

    It can be so much work! The lists you create are basically what I do too but I use different coloured pens for them and they’re in a book 🤣 I hate when it gets to feel like a chore, like normal diaries always did for me. I don’t stress about filling it in though if I miss it and i guess mine is shameful compared to the beautiful ones on Insta but mine seems to be a mix; not quite bullet journal but not only lists 🤣 Plus I never do “spreads” …

    • January 15, 2019 / 5:09 pm

      I looooove this, Ellie. I agree, diaries can also feel like a chore. It’s all about finding a way to incorporate these reminders into your life without it becoming just another thing to do! Thanks for sharing! xo

      • January 15, 2019 / 6:43 pm

        Haha I’m glad you could make sense of what I wrote – I felt like I was waffling on a bit! (Sorry) xo

  23. January 15, 2019 / 4:53 pm

    I always felt a bit jealous when people posted lovely snapshots of their bullet journals – colorful, pretty, and obviously organized. I am organized but not in a glittering, colorful way and going through your post and the images made me smile. I usually pin down post-its around my workspace to remind myself about agendas and goals. Your post is so real.

    Love,
    Anjali

    • January 15, 2019 / 5:10 pm

      LOVE this, Anjali! So dang true. I was always envious too of their artistic talent and dedication. However, it’s difficult to manage when you have a busy life. Glad you agree! xo

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  25. Lorraine
    January 16, 2019 / 11:12 am

    Interesting article. I do think you’re confusing Bullet Journaling with the complicated hybrid Bullet Planning craze that people have evolved it into. True bullet journaling is a system that is designed to enhance your life and in it’s original form did not require any artistic talents.

    I would suggest you research Ryder Carroll (the creator of Bullet Journaling) before writing it off (pun not intended)….

    • January 18, 2019 / 1:08 am

      Fair enough! I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for sharing, Lorraine!

  26. luvk
    January 16, 2019 / 1:35 pm

    This is the most legitimate post i’ve ever seen! I am a fan of planners because I am an organized person and a really forgetful one that’s why I feel tge need to write everything down. But with bullet journal, I feel like it’s one of the things I should worry about!

    Love your post and looking forward to it ♡

    -love, Cath x

  27. Steph
    January 20, 2019 / 7:27 pm

    Ironically, I have my dot journal set up a lot like your lists–I have the days laid out on one side and the facing page is my to-do lists for the week. I don’t do any art work or fancy stuff, though I do have a habit tracker for 2-4 things I try to do daily or daily-ish. While I admire other people’s craftiness, mine is just a flexible way of doing lists, not a craft project! The only thing that is time consuming at all for me is a month-on-one-page spread I use, but that is critical for me so worth doing. Maybe all of us with ugly dot journals should pinterest them to support each other 🙂

    • January 22, 2019 / 8:24 pm

      I love that you do it more logically! That’s exactly how I would do it too! xo

  28. January 23, 2019 / 5:41 pm

    Bullet Journals don’t have to be pretty, or artsy o craftful or none of that stuff. You do’nt need to do pre-planned spreads if they overwhelm you. People do get confused when searching on Pinterest, but that’s a Mistake. I scrolled down to the comments section because I was curious about what other people thought, and it blows my mind how many people are uninformed. Please do check out Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal, he has videos on Youtubeand a really clear webpage. Also the BOOK (The Bullet Journal Method) is the best book to help you keep your daily planning as it is, DAILY. I’ve been keeping my BuJo for two years now, and I once felt overwhelmed too, but reading the book helped me so much and made me realize my mistakes. I hope people read this comment and can look for more info about it. I totally respect your post, and didn’t come here to bash or anything, just saying.

    • January 23, 2019 / 7:18 pm

      Yes- I’ve learned a lot from reading the comments. I was unaware that there was a more simplistic way of bullet journaling, as I’m sure were many of my readers. Thanks for informing us. I was just sharing my thoughts 🙂

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